For those of you not familiar, General Motors EcoCar competition pits engineering students from different universities all over the country against each other in a competition to see who can build the best fuel-friendly vehicle. GM provides each participating team with an identical donor vehicle, which will serve as the basis for their innovative eco-conscious car.
Glamour Magazine recently ran a short piece on one particularly rare type of EcoCar team. Wayne State University EcoCar3 team, called the ‘Hybrid Warriors’ is female-led, with students of different academic backgrounds all contributing to the project.
EcoCar3 team members must ensure their car has reduced emissions, improved fuel economy and will pass a 300-point safety inspection. The teams must also take into consideration driving dynamics, comfort and possible production costs, just as one of GM’s own engineers would.
Team leader Alyse Ariel Waldhorn, an environmental science major pursuin an undergrad in mechanical engineering, told Glamour magazine the project helps student understand where the direction they want to take their careers.
“I want to work somewhere that’s innovative, creative, and up-and-coming,” she told me. “As far as automotive and the transportation industry in Michigan, it’s an ever-growing field. And even though it’s not something I would have considered 10 years ago—I’m not like a lot of students on the team who knew they were passionate about cars since they were children—automotive is such a broad industry, and there are so many different facets I could go into.”
Waldhorn encourages other girls thinking about going into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field to not get hung up on the fact that you’re a female in a male-dominated occupation, but to concentrate on the practical skills you can use each day.
“Think about the kind of work you really like doing,” Waldhorn said. “Don’t think about how it’s a male-dominated industry. Don’t let that inhibit what you want. Think about what makes you happy and what kind of skills you’ll get to use day-to-day.”